Roma pounce on Napoli gaffe with Chievo win

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

MI­LAN:

A first-half free-kick from Stephan El Shaar­away sent Roma on their way to a pre­cious 3-1 win over Chievo that moved them to within four points of Ju­ven­tus on Thurs­day. With Ju­ven­tus in Su­per Cup ac­tion in Doha this Fri­day against AC Mi­lan but fac­ing a rel­a­tively easy fix­ture with Cro­tone on their re­turn, both Roma and Napoli were keen to stay on their tails in the fi­nal fix­tures of 2016.

El Shaarawy was given a rare start by coach Lu­ciano Spal­letti and the for­mer Mi­lan for­ward paved the way for a classy win with an in­ci­sive free kick on the stroke of half-time that lev­elled Jonathan De Guz­man’s 37th minute opener. “His goal was a de­ci­sive fac­tor for us,” Spal­letti later told Sky Sport.

Roma were su­perb af­ter the break and Edin Dzeko fired the hosts into a 52nd minute lead with his 13th goal of the cam­paign. The Bos­nian is now just one be­hind Serie A leader Mauro Icardi, who hit a brace for In­ter Mi­lan in a 3-0 win over Lazio on Wed­nes­day. Dzeko spurned sev­eral chances to tie and per­haps sur­pass Icardi in the later stages, be­fore Diego Perotti put the re­sult be­yond doubt with a penalty on the stroke of full-time.

Roma’s 11th win of the cam­paign tight­ened their grip on sec­ond spot and, al­though Ju­ven­tus will be ex­pected to re­store their seven-point ad­van­tage when they face Cro­tone in their catch-up fix­ture in early Fe­bru­ary, the Gial­lorossi have stolen a march on Napoli. “The lads were bril­liant tonight, from the first minute to the last,” gushed Spal­letti. “There was a slight risk af­ter our de­feat (to Ju­ven­tus) last week but the lads went out and showed how much they wanted the points.”

Napoli drop pre­cious points

A last-gasp penalty from Manolo Gab­bia­dini saw Napoli grab a share of the spoils in a 3-3 draw at Fiorentina that none­the­less saw them drop two pre­cious points. Napoli re­main third but are seven points be­hind Ju­ven­tus, three be­hind Roma and one ahead of Lazio. AC Mi­lan are fourth at one point fur­ther be­hind, but also have a catch-up game, away to Bologna, in Fe­bru­ary. Af­ter two con­sec­u­tive de­feats for Fiorentina, Napoli had a de­ci­sive swagger af­ter a beau­ti­ful strike from Lorenzo In­signe flew over the head of Ciprian Tataru­sanu and into the far cor­ner of the Fiorentina net on 25 min­utes. There was a hint of off­side, and Fiorentina coach Paulo Sousa later hit out at the de­ci­sion: “It hap­pens, but all of us have to im­prove and we also have to help the ref­er­ees to get better.

“We did well to fight our way back, but we de­served to win.” But then Fed­erico Bernarde­schi’s 52nd minute free-kick de­flected off Jose Calle­jon’s el­bow to wrong-foot Pepe Reina in the Napoli net. Napoli looked to be back in com­mand when Dries Mertens flicked a Faouzi Ghoulam cross past Tataru­sanu in the 68th minute to re­store the vis­i­tors’ one-goal ad­van­tage, the Bel­gian re­mark­ably hit­ting his eighth goal in just three games. — AFP

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